Kevin Hiatt, president and CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation, says the situation speaks to what's going on inside the FAA itself. "We hope they take a look at their own processes internally to make sure that they're up to date and on par with this new technologically advanced aircraft."
The twin-engine jetliner is heralded for its mostly carbon fiber construction, which reduces weight. Its fuel saving possibilities, cutting edge technology, operational versatility and cabin appointments generated enormous interest from airlines, initially overseas.
Top Boeing, Transportation Department and FAA officials said at a news conference on Friday announcing the federal safety review that it was important to maintain public confidence in the Dreamliner.
"There is a continued process that we always go through. So this is not unprecedented," said FAA chief Michael Huerta.
But at Reagan National Airport on Friday, some passengers expressed skepticism in general about the nation's airline regulatory safety net.
"As a regulatory attorney, I know that regulatory agencies in this country don't always do their job all that efficiently," said Jonathan Weinrieb of Chevy Chase, Maryland. "So do I trust them to make sure the Dreamliner is safe? No. But will that stop me from flying if that's the plane I've got to get on to get where I'm going? No."
Another traveler said his confidence in the system was high. "They'll figure it out and get it all squared away," said Ridgely Albaugh of Lower Marlboro, Maryland.
Goglia said every new airplane is going have "teething problems." The manufacturers usually "get a handle on it quickly and fix it," he said.
The most recent Dreamliner setbacks occurred Friday. Oil was discovered leaking from a generator on an engine at a Japanese airport, and a crack appeared in a cockpit window of a plane en route from Tokyo to western Japan, a spokeswoman for All Nippon Airways said.
ANA was the Dreamliner's launch, or first customer.
On Tuesday, a Japan Airlines flight bound for Tokyo aborted takeoff from Boston's Logan International Airport after a pilot on another airplane spotted the 787 leaking fuel. On Monday, a maintenance worker discovered the electrical fire aboard an empty plane being prepared at a gate at Logan for a return trip to Japan.
In December, a United Airlines 787 traveling from Houston to Newark, New Jersey, was diverted to New Orleans because of mechanical problems. A general inspection of all 787s in September turned up cracked engines on two planes.
The cracked window and the leaky generator were not unusual issues, ANA said, and occur with other aircraft as well. This was the third time that a window cracked on an ANA Dreamliner, but the cockpit window has five layers, and Friday's crack, in a spider web pattern, appeared in the outer layer, ANA said. It did not endanger the flight.
Newer airplanes are safer than ever, Goglia said. "We are flying more airplanes that have been engineered to be safer," he said. "We almost (never) have material failures in airplanes anymore."
The Airbus A380 also had problems when it started flying in 2007, but aviation expert Janet Bednarek loves to fly on it.
"It had cracks in the wing, which would be much more concerning to me" than the 787 reports, said Bednarek, a University of Dayton aviation history professor. "They figured it out. Pilots want to get to their destination alive as much as anybody, so they don't mess around."
Like the 787, the Boeing 747 had a lot of issues when it started flying in 1970, aviation consultant Michael Boyd said.
And as with the former model, Boeing will work through the current aircraft's issues and move on, the company has said.
"Just like with anything that's new, they kind of have to get the kinks out of it," said airline passenger Ronald Hobby, of Fort Washington, Maryland. "So I would probably wait for a while until they get everything straight before I would fly."